What is light pollution?

Light pollution is best described as artificial light that is allowed to illuminate or pollute areas not intended to be lit. There are three main types of light pollution:

  • Light trespass: the intrusion of light into homes e.g. by badly positioned security lighting;
  • Glare: unshielded bright lighting e.g. car park lighting which may be hazardous in a relatively small area; and
  • Sky Glow: the broad orange glow that prevents appreciation of the night sky

 

Since April 2006, certain forms of artificial light pollution can be investigated under 'statutory nuisance legislation' due to an amendment in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. Exemptions apply for street lighting and a range of public transport buildings, lighthouses and prisons. Nuisance floodlights from neighbouring residents' properties are included in the legislation.

The steps to resolve a problem with light are similar to that for noise, as the law is the same. An informal approach should be taken initially; the owner of the light may not even be aware of the problem they are causing. Formal action taken by our Environmental Health Officers would require evidence and must have regard to the basic principles of nuisance as follows:

  • Duration
  • Time of day
  • Frequency
  • Intensity i.e. the level of illumination
  • Character of the area (rural/urban or industrial/residential)
  • Reasonableness - trivial matters and situations which only affect unusually sensitive persons cannot be actioned

 

The following steps are recommended:

  • Record the problem with an accurate note of times and dates of nuisance and maybe take photographs
  • Speak to the light owner and see if a compromise can be achieved

 

If a compromise can’t be reached then Contact Environmental Health. Our officers will decide whether the lighting is in fact a nuisance and if so, request that it is abated. If the order is ignored, the we can take legal action. Failure to comply with an abatement notice can lead to a fine of up to £5,000.00.

 

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